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Notorious Sicilian mafia 'Godfather' from Corleone, Salvatore 'Toto' Riina, dies at 87

Riina, one of Sicily's most notorious Mafia bosses, was serving 26 life sentences for murder convictions as the mastermind of a bloody strategy to kill Italian prosecutors who were behind the mafia.

Published: 17th November 2017 02:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th November 2017 03:55 PM   |  A+A-

In this March 4, 1993 file photo, Mafia boss Salvatore Riina waves to family and supporters as he is taken away by police following a court appearance in Palermo, southern Italy. (AP File Photo)

By Associated Press

MILAN: Mafia 'boss of bosses' Salvatore 'Toto' Riina has died in the hospital while serving multiple life sentences as the mastermind of a bloody strategy to assassinate Italian prosecutors and law enforcement trying to bring down the Cosa Nostra (also known as the Sicilian mafia or simply, the mafia), Italian media reported today.

He was 87.

Riina died hours after the Justice Minister had allowed his family members bedside visits yesterday, which was his birthday, after he had been placed in a medically induced coma. Italian media said his health had deteriorated following two recent surgeries.

Riina, one of Sicily's most notorious Mafia bosses, was serving 26 life sentences for murder convictions as a powerful Cosa Nostra boss.

He was captured in Palermo, Sicily's capital, in 1993 and imprisoned under a law that requires strict security for top mobsters, including being detained in isolated sections of prisons with limited time outside their cells.

In this April 29, 1993 file photo, Mafia "boss of bosses" Salvatore "Toto" Riina, is seen behind bars, during a trial in Rome. (AP File Photo)

Prosecutors accused Riina of masterminding a strategy, carried out over several years, to assassinate Italian prosecutors, police officials and others who were going after Cosa Nostra when he allegedly held the helm as the so-called "boss of bosses." The bloodbath campaign ultimately backfired on Cosa Nostra.

After bombs killed Italy's two leading anti-Mafia magistrates, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two months apart in 1992, the state stepped up its crackdown on Sicily's Mafiosi.

Riina was captured in a Palermo apartment six months after Borsellino and his police escorts were killed by a car bomb. A native of Corleone, a Sicilian hill and Mafia stronghold, he steadfastly refused to collaborate with law enforcement after his capture.

This May 23, 1992 file photo shows the scene on the highway near the Sicilian town of Palermo, southern Italy, after a powerful bomb killed anti-Mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three bodyguards. (AP Photo)

Riina was incarcerated at a Milan prison before his hospitalization. In July, a court denied a request by Riina's family to transfer the convicted mobster to house arrest because of his ailing health. 



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